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Substrate vs Water Column Dosing

Discussion in 'CO2 Enrichment' started by RlxdN10sity, Jan 29, 2007.

  1. RlxdN10sity

    RlxdN10sity Prolific Poster

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    What are the best charcteristics observed in each substrate fertilization and water column dosing and what is the most effective way to combine these two methodologies into one healthy aquatic system?
     
  2. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    ADA Aqua soil + EI would be perhaps the best way I've seen.

    Simple, flexible, grows most anything very well.

    At issue: poor CO2.

    If that is bad, nothing grows that well.
    You can slow CO2 demand by limiting PO4 or other nutrients, but this fails to provide optimal growth for a given light level.

    Excess light = algae, less light and good CO2/nutrients= best management for aquarist.

    If you seek a non CO2 method, then read in the article section here how to approach that.

    Best characters:

    Easy
    Effective with all plant species
    Relatively Cheap

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  3. RlxdN10sity

    RlxdN10sity Prolific Poster

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    I'm currently running EI and CO2 (26-28ppm) with 240 watts on a 55 gallon. My substrate is 100% flourite. I've been working really hard on this tank for what seems like an eternity (3+ yrs.) and just have not gotten the lush, uncontrollable, green and red growth I'm striving for. I've not lost my enthusiasm but some noticeable improvement would certainly be satisfying. I looked at adgshop.com for ADA aqua soil and there were 3 different types of soil as well as substrate additives and power sand. I could not find any resources on the site to help me determine which products I need or in what quantity, can you offer any insight on this? Thank you so much.
     
  4. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    3-4 x 9 liter bags of ADA aqua soil amazonia medium grain size.

    EI and most water column fert routines negate the Power sand and the other additives as essentially ineffectual.


    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  5. VaughnH

    VaughnH Lifetime Charter Member
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    You have very high light intensity, almost 4.4 watts per gallon, so you really need to be sure you are providing the CO2 the plants need. If you aren't, the plants can only grow as fast as they have carbon available to do so. When you say you have 26-28 ppm that immediately tells me you are just measuring KH and pH and using that to calculate the amount of CO2 you have. It isn't that easy. That technique seems to always give a higher number than the actual amount you have, and you can't possibly know your KH and pH accurately enough, even with professional grade test equipment, to achieve an CO2 ppm error of only 2 ppm.

    I suggest you buy or make a "drop checker" and use it to determine the amount of CO2 you have. By doing that you can narrow the error down to around +/- 5-10 ppm, which gives you a chance to be sure you have 20-40 ppm, as you should have. See the Articles section here for more information.
     
  6. RlxdN10sity

    RlxdN10sity Prolific Poster

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    Thank you Tom and Vaughn very much. I should mention that I monitor my CO2 levels with a Lamotte CO2 test kit, hence the narrow margin of error. I have no reference to state the accuracy of this kit other than my understanding that Lamotte provides product that is of measurably higher quality than run of the mill pet store test kit brands (I've never been to a pet store that offered CO2 test kits but hopefully you know what I mean). I do not want to burden this post with data about my tank unless someone who successfully operates one or more planted tanks would be (charitable and/or merciful enough) willing to analyse what I'm doing right and wrong and offer me some insight. I would so appreciate any additional help you would be willing to give. I live in Louisville, KY and have not been able to find a planted tank community or organization in my area to seek help from. I have often had the urge to fly to San Francisco and seek membership in SFBAAPS so that I could learn this hobby well enough to actually contribute to it. I would love to be inspired by looking at my own tank as much as I am by looking at pictures of yours and others. Thanks again for all you do.
     
  7. VaughnH

    VaughnH Lifetime Charter Member
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    Lamotte test kits are very good, but the basic principle involved in measuring CO2 in an aquarium by measuring the pH and KH of the aquarium water isn't very good. If you read Chuck Gadd's website, Measuring CO2 levels in a Planted Tank, for example, he says, "pH, KH, and CO2 have a fixed relationship as long as carbonate is the only buffer present (no phosphate buffers like pH-UP and- DOWN, Discus Buffer, etc). There are some parts of the country that have high levels of phosphates in their water supply. For those cases, determining CO2 levels will be difficult, as the phosphate will throw off the pH-KH-CO2 relationship, which means the CO2 charts and calculator below won't work. Note that the commercially available CO2 test kits will also be invalidated by the phosphates." It is also true that the presence of other sources of acidity, such as tannins, will make this test yield inaccurate results. This has led to a whole string of folks reporting that they use 70 - 100 ppm of CO2 in their tank, so they know they have enough, but we know that that much CO2 would kill the fish, and it doesn't. As far as I have been able to determine, only the drop checker method will yield an accurate measure of the CO2 in the tank water. The good news is that this is a cheap way to test. You can make a servicable drop checker for just a couple of dollars or even less, or buy a Red Sea version for about $14, or buy a nice glass one on ebay for about $30, or buy an ADA version for a lot more, and all will work equally well. All you need in addition is some distilled or DI water, some bicarbonate of soda, and some pH test reagent. It seems to me this is a project well worth the time and money just to remove any doubts about whether or not you have enough CO2 in the water.
     
  8. Frolicsome_Flora

    Frolicsome_Flora Guru Class Expert

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    Vaughns spot on with this, after he suggested to me that I get a proper drop checker, most of the stress and guess work went right out of the window for me. Now Im used to the changes in colours, I can tell far more accuratly how much/little CO2 I have in my tank. Before, I was testing, retesting, 3 or more times a day :eek: This is supposed to be a restful hobby!

    As well as being a nicely accurate way of doing it, drop checkers are very much the easy route as well.
     
  9. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    But then what? I'll be out of job:mad: :p

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  10. PaulB

    PaulB Subscriber

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    I agree, the drop checker with calibrated Kh solution is a very easy way of checking you have sufficient Co2 in the tank. Just beware the blown glass ones from ebay are very fragile and are easily broken during tank cleaning (as i found out :( )Congratulations Vaughn on a very good idea. :)
     
  11. RlxdN10sity

    RlxdN10sity Prolific Poster

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    Thanks again to everyone. I've been checking ADGshop for a drop checker since Vaghn suggested I get one and the site says the item is out of stock. I'm going to try calling them directly tomorrow to see if this is correct. I cannot seem to find the one offered by Red Sea. I prefer to buy the best made in regards to ease of use, longevity and overall quality if possible. If the test method I have been using is not accurate I certainly want to correct this. I tend to lean toward my CO2 being at appropriate levels but I will certainly be testing with the drop checker as soon as I can locate and aquire one. I'm introducing CO2 at 3 bubbles a second into a 3" ID downflow reactor located in the supply line from my canister filter. I also purge accumulated gasses about 3/8" from top of reactor into the tank via venturi powerhead. (A year and a half or so ago I read on APD about Tom's enthusiasm for use of a venturi for CO2 introduction and I went to the LFS and asked for a venturi. They offered me a "venturi powerhead" commonly used for protein skimmers and I used it for quite awhile before I realised this was not the venturi Tom was speaking about) I've had my CO2 set just slightly higher than this on accident and had fish acting a little drunk and lakadaisical (how do you spell lakadaisical?) I only assume it was the CO2. I immediately did a 50+% partial and turned down the gas and the fish came out of it shortly thereafter.
     
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